Working with your RPE supplier
Suppliers and manufacturers can offer you more than just a place to buy your RPE.
Research indicates that some managers, particularly those from small companies, rely upon receiving information about RPE from external sources including manufacturers and suppliers. In particular, advice from manufacturers and suppliers influences the specific controls they choose.
The Cast Metals Federation (CMF) recently looked at their members’ experiences of buying RPE. CMF members make extensive use of RPE and although they are not representative of RPE purchasers overall, their views represent a valuable insight into user experiences:
- Help and advice was reported to be widely available from RPE suppliers;
- Most had been visited in person by their supplier who might, for example, spend time viewing the processes on site;
- It was noted that larger suppliers might offer advice voluntarily, whereas smaller suppliers might need to be asked first. This could present a problem for those new to purchasing RPE if they do not know they can ask for help from their supplier;
- Respondents generally regarded the information and advice from suppliers very positively. Most rated it as ‘very helpful’ and reported feeling confident that they received accurate information;
- Experience of suppliers providing follow up support was less common amongst respondents. For those that had received it, examples included regular site visits from their supplier to check use, wearability, and employee satisfaction and to update them on new products and modifications;
- The most common route for identifying RPE requirements amongst respondents was through a risk assessment;
- The majority reported that they receive external help to identify their requirements;
- Respondents typically purchased RPE from a general safety equipment supplier, rather than a specialist RPE supplier or manufacturer. They also tend to stick with a single supplier;